Customs offices to operate 24/7

All customs offices will begin 24-hour operations everyday by April, this year, to facilitate increasing trade, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has announced.

All customs offices will begin 24-hour operations everyday by April, this year, to facilitate increasing trade, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has announced.

It was in response to constant requests from the business community for the services.

In a meeting with RRA officials yesterday, importers and exporters said that whereas border posts are open all the time, customs offices, particularly at the Rwanda Bonded Warehouse in Gikondo, remain closed for business over the weekends.

According to them, although border stations are always open for goods in transit, it is difficult to clear goods, particularly over the weekends, which heavily affects their businesses.

“At RRA, our major objective is to facilitate traders; after listening to the requests, we undertook a study on how we can effectively operate customs offices for 24 hours everyday. We drew a budget and within three months, all customs offices will surely be operating all the time,” Richard Tusabe, the Deputy Commissioner General and Commissioner for Customs announced.

“We however urge traders to utilise these customs stations; it will be encouraging to find our agents busy late in the night because of the facilitation”.

Traders also brought to light bureaucracy tendencies practised by the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) in inspection procedures.

“We cannot trade unless we are given a go ahead by all stakeholders, yet RBS usually delays us. They take a long time to complete the inspection of goods and sometimes when we need a service, they are not available,” Gerard Nsengiyumva, an importer lamented.

“It usually takes RBS seven to ten days to clear our goods; this is a very long time which is not good for our business,” Sameer Danji of Sameer Hussein Company, which deals in the importation of motorbike spare parts, noted.

Tusabe noted that although RBS failed to attend the meeting, he would personally organise another one this week in which RBS will answer the traders’ concerns.

He further encouraged traders to utilise a “Blue Channel” facility which allows their goods to clear faster to be followed up by a customs post clearance audit.

Blue Channel is a facility scheme recommended by the World Customs Organisation, to facilitate compliant taxpayers with post clearance audits without undertaking physical and documentary verifications when goods are in the customs territory.

“We used to assess the compliance of taxpayers and offered the Blue Channel Service to those we deemed deserving. However, now things have changed, all interested traders can apply for Blue Channel and will get it on merit. It will help traders to transport goods within the region without being subjected to physical verification,” Tusabe explained.

ivan.mugisha@newtimes.co.rw

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